COVID-19 Staff Stories

Craig Tothill

As I sit and gaze out my window at a beautiful blue sky, one could easily forget the chaos that is going on around the planet.  The year 2020, a year like any other, until it wasn’t.  I recall telling my children in the early days of what would become a pandemic, before the world basically shut down, that they were living through a time in history that will never be forgotten.  Little did I know in only a few weeks’ time from making that statement where things would go.

Frequently I wake up in the morning and think to myself that this can’t really be happening.  That what is taking place across the globe must really be an elaborate dream that I have concocted.  But alas, with one glance at the TV or Internet, I am reminded that this truly is happening.  Today will be yet another day of not having to commute to work, and for the whole family to remain under the same roof for what amounts to the entire day.

Reflecting back, I admit that initially I did not give the virus the credit it so obviously deserves.  I mused about the novelty of maybe working from home and joked with the kids about the potential of an extended March break.  All the while, in the back of my mind I was thinking, I lived through SARS, surely this can’t be any worse than that was.  It didn’t take long for the horrific numbers of infections and deaths, posted on a daily if not almost hourly basis, to sink in.  This was not going to be the same as SARS…this was going to be something that none of us were prepared for.

And then a day came that I will likely never forget.  We were close to completing an internal ISO audit when the official announcement came that Covid-19 was a pandemic.  The changes that happened over the next few days came at an unbelievable pace.  The kids would be off school for an extended period of time and most of Ontario (including our entire company) would now be working from home.  Being in charge of the IT department, I am fairly certain my blood pressure reached new levels leading up to the first day of empty office space.

As a veteran with Delvinia, I can attest to the fact this was not the first experience of adversity we have had to face.  In 2001, due to a variety of circumstances, Delvinia was forced to lay off almost the entire staff.  I, along with the two principals of the organization, were left to forge ahead.  Our job was to keep the company going and maintain our client base.  At that time, I was much younger, had recently purchased my first home and was planning a wedding.  I clearly recall that time in my life as being a delicate balancing act to maintain a calm exterior as I struggled with internal fears.  Despite the difficult times we faced during this period, Delvinia, like a Phoenix, regrew from the ashes, much stronger than ever.

In 2008, economic hardships hit many businesses and Delvinia was not unaffected. Having garnered some experience with what we had been through in 2001, the fear of uncertainty was somewhat lessened.  I knew that despite the current situation seeming bleak, the strong would survive.  I am not going to lie and say I didn’t experience stress and fear, but somehow my sights remained focused on the future and where we needed to be.  And we sure enough, we came out on the other side and continued to grow.

When I compare the current situation in 2020 with what we experienced in both 2001 and 2008, those earlier challenges seem like child’s play.  Being older and wiser, and having great faith in the company’s leadership, I am now more than ever able to find a sense of calm.  The company has never been as strong going into a time of crisis as it is now.  That strength is what will get us through the challenges that may lay ahead.  The many day-to-day struggles we have faced since we transitioned to a work-from-home population now seem more like bumps in the road than insurmountable hurdles.  The future of the world still remains unknown at this point, but I know both the company and I personally, will pull through this and once again be stronger for it.

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